Turning the shower temperature at its max setting, Mitch stood under the scalding water and zoned out. He pressed his head against the tile wall and felt nothing other than numbness that made his limbs heavy to support. Eventually, he crouched on the floor of the tub and waited for the water to run cold, not yet wanting to leave the sanctity of the bathroom and face reality.
After the world’s least refreshing shower, Mitch pulled on his underwear then hid under the hideous comforter provided by the Motel 6. The TV was on but he paid no attention whatever played on it, idly flipping through the channels but seeking nothing in particular. He only needed background noise to drown out the amplifying intrusive thoughts that strongly suggested he throw himself onto Route 2.
Even when he went to great lengths to be respectful and mindful, even when he no longer pursued a cure for his loneliness, it was something. Even though he stopped sleeping around in order to get his head and heart together, there was always, always something. It happened all the time in college, it happened whenever Calvin needed a “break”. It ruined his friendship with Nate, and now Avi…
He didn’t think he had anymore crying left in him, but sure enough an aquaphor must have been tapped. Yet again, he was a wreck.
Anyone else? Fine, he’d manage, always did even if it broke him for a while. But Avi was supposed to be different. Avi was kind and supportive. Harmless. Off limits. And Mitch eventually accepted that, even made peace with it. Avi was supposed to be his friend. The person that defended him from Toby, saw him at rock bottom, heard him scream some of his deepest insecurities at the ocean after the assault.
The worst part for Mitch was how bad he wanted it, too. A split second later and he would have been begging to be fucked right there in the ring, or at the very least offering to suck Avi off. But he was trying to be good, trying to value himself for once in his life, trying to make some progress so that he could break this cycle that he kept falling into. Why else did he pay a stranger and reach into the depths of his soul, exposing the murkiest parts, reliving his worst traumas? Because he liked it? Because it was fun?
He wasn’t sure how he was gonna get through this one without something in his system by the end of the night. Edibles weren’t going to be enough. Someone at the motel must have had pills or coke on them, and he’d be willing to blow or eat someone out to be incapacitated. Even if they did, how would he go about getting them? Knock on all of the doors until finding someone that had his fix?
He thought about calling Jodie, but didn’t want to ruin her chances at finally moving on from her own ex. Plus, he couldn’t keep dragging her into his issues like this, just because a stupid boy hurt his stupid gay feelings. Again.
But he knew he needed to get in touch with someone, since the allure of using continued to barrage him like this. It meant looking at his phone, where many missed calls from Avi waited. As far as Mitch was concerned, Avi could go fuck himself.
However, amongst the calls was one from Louis, which was odd considering that he should be balls deep in a MILF at that moment. Mitch didn’t bother to listen to the voicemail left by him, and opted to hit the phone icon instead. The phone picked up after a single ring.
“Hey,” came Louis’ voice through the phone, and Mitch covered his mouth to keep from making any obnoxious wailing noises. “Mitch?”
“I’m here,” Mitch said with a sniffle.
“OK, good,” Louis exhaled. “Avi just called me in a panic, did something happen?” Mitch let out a high pitched whine, and Louis tutted. “Mitch-“
“Remember what I said at Graveyard Smash? How guys sense that I’ll put out, so they-“
“Mitch,” Louis repeated a little more firmly.
“I’m a human being, OK! I have feelings, and…and it’s like they don’t matter. Ever. People think-“
“Mitch,” Louis repeated a third time. “You’re at the motel, right?”
“Yeah,” Mitch replied, deflating a little. “I don’t know if I should be here, I might relapse.”
“Shit, are you safe?”
“For now, yes. I’m by myself. I already deal with this every day, today they’re just…stronger.”
“Stay put, don’t go anywhere. Listen, I don’t know what happened, but I told Avi where you are, and he should be there soon…actually, he’s probably already there if he didn’t get pulled over for speeding.”
“WHY?” Mitch sat up and shouted. “Lou, what the fuck?!”
“He told me what happened, and look, Mitch-”
“You told me you didn’t know!”
“I know a little!” Louis snapped, then exhaled. “I know this is tough, but I need you to really think about this: Have I ever put you in harm’s way? Once?”
“No,” Mitch reluctantly admitted.
“Do me this solid: hear him out, OK? Give him like, 5 minutes. And if you’re still ripshit after that, call me and I’ll come get you right away. I’ll gay marry you, whatever you need. We’ll go to city hall tomorrow morning, bright and early, sign the paperwork.”
“You’re not into guys.”
“Babe, I will make it work. Somehow. Please? Do this for me?”
Mitch didn’t want to agree, his blistered heart angry and agitated. But without a doubt, Louis cared about him, always looking out for his well being even if his bedside manner sucked ass. So Mitch conceded and hung up, then after settling down, called Avi. That time the phone didn’t even ring, Avi picked up immediately.
“Room 117,” Mitch said before Avi could speak. “Call me when you get to it.”
“OK,” Avi responded, his voice raw. A few minutes later, headlights shone through the flimsy curtains, briefly illuminating the room before going dark again. Avi’s name flashed on the phone screen, and Mitch considered ignoring it.
But he swallowed his pride and answered the call.